Gentle motions: Patty Flauto’s “Daydreams” at River Gallery Arts

Many abstract paintings do not suggest movement. Or if they do, they not create the suggestion of movement of elements within the canvas, but bring viewers to mind of the act of painting. A Helen Frankenthaler painting might prompt us to imagine the artist pouring paint; a Jackson Pollock recalls Hans Namuth’s photos of the artist dripping paint onto canvas stretched across a workshop floor.

Daydreams, an exhibition of Patty Flauto’s paintings, is currently on view now at River Gallery Arts, located in Rocky River. The exhibition includes more than 50 of her works, ranging in size from handheld to several feet across on each side. Flauto’s paintings do not evoke the action of brushwork. The non-figurative bodies in her work do seem to be in motion relative to each other, but their movements are subtle, unhurried. Objects seem to dissolve and seep into one another, or separate like dyed oil in water. When they bump together, they do not collide and fragment, but bounce off. Or, they engulf and absorb each other.

A recurring motif is a single oak tree’s leaf. But besides the leave,  none of Flauto’s painted objects seem alive. They are inanimate, but mobile—like fog, liquid, seeping gel, bubbles, dust moved by air. Rounded or amorphous objects overlay conspicuously manmade straight lines—squares, grids, repeating rows of small dots. Visually, Flauto’s paintings do not resemble any Earthly landscape. But the coexistence of shapeless, organic forms with geometry creates a mood like that of a place where lines between wild nature and constructed environments blur, like the ruin of an abandoned building smoothed and flattened by the elements and covered in plant life.

Splashes of red or streaks of black provide invigorating contrasts against white and sky-blue backgrounds. But the worlds Flauto paints are free of strife, violence. They are in flux, neither still nor hectic—slower than a hurricane or river; but faster than a season turning, or a glacier carving a landscape. Her images are meant to slow us down, bodily and mentally, to match the pace of her patient scenes. The predominance of colors like white, blue, and muted pinks offer further encouragement to calmness. On Flauto’s personal website, her canvases are described as windows onto non-narrative scenes, and invitations to “pause and interpret.”

Artist proceeds from Daydreams will be donated to the family crisis housing organization Providence House. Flauto will be visiting River Gallery Arts tomorrow, Saturday Aug. 29, between 2 and 5 p.m. Due to social distancing requirements, slots to attend the visit must be reserved in advance on Eventbrite. The gallery is located at 19046 Old Detroit Rd., Rocky River. For more information, call 440-331-8406 or go to Flauto’s personal site can be visited here.

The opinions expressed on CAN Blog are those of the individual writers. Art is somewhat subjective. Well, somewhat. But yes, everybody's a critic.